Impact of sward composition and stock performance of grazing Molinia-dominant grassland

M. D. Fraser, V. J. Theobald, M. S. Dhanoa, O. D. Davies

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12 Citations (SciVal)


A comparative experiment was conducted to test the extent to which grazing of rank Molinia caerulea-dominated grassland increases botanical diversity and improves animal performance. The study was carried out on an area of under-grazed Molinia-dominant pasture that had not been stocked for 20 years. Three treatments were compared from 2001 until 2008: (1) no grazing, (2) grazing by Welsh Mountain sheep and (3) grazing by Welsh Black heifers. Patterns of change in sward surface composition across the grazing season were consistent with greater consumption of Molinia by the cattle, but there was little evidence of management regime influencing changes in sward composition year-on-year. There was a significant effect of year on animal performance (P <0.001). Although the growth rates of the heifers improved over the course of the first three years of the experiment, this performance was not sustained. In contrast, any weight changes for the sheep were positive. The results highlight the slow pace of change within upland swards, and the need to develop site-specific grazing guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-106
Number of pages5
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2011


  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Upland
  • Botanical composition
  • Animal performance


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